The Scooby gang is no novice when it comes to science fiction, as they’ve encountered actual aliens in Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders and battled computer simulations in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, but for Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness, our plucky heroes leave the safety of Earth and venture off into space in one of their most dangerous adventures yet.
Egomaniac billionaire Sly Baron (Malcolm McDowell) intends to make space travel available to the average person — a clear nod to billionaire Richard Branson — and with the launch of his new spacecraft, Sly Star One, he will be inviting along five lucky lottery winners, who just so happen to be all five members of Mystery Incorporated. Shortly after the launch, a mysterious alien monster is seen scampering across the exterior of the ship; Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) witness this, and of course, are not believed — at this point in their careers, why the gang wouldn’t believe these two makes no sense — but then it’s revealed that the external air takes have been ruptured and is now jettisoning the ships’ air supply. With only minutes of breathable air left — because the writers forgot about the air supply of everyone’s suit as well as the air already inside the massive ship’s interior — Sly Baron reveals that he has constructed a massive hidden base on the Dark Side of the Moon.
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is a lavish-looking production, with some of the best-designed set pieces ever seen in a Scooby-Doo animated feature film, and the alien monster itself was a terrifying hybrid of H.R. Giger’s xenomorph from Alien, and Stan Winston’s alien hunter from Predator. As for the mystery itself, well we do get a plethora of suspects to choose from. Celebrated astronaut Shannon Lucas (Jennifer Hale) seems eager to drive a wedge between Daphne (Grey Griffin) and Velma (Mindy Cohn) for some reason, then we have football star Uvinous ‘U-Boat’ Botango (Kevin Michael Richardson) who resents the world’s technological progress which has resulted in robotic automation costing many people their jobs. Next, there are retired astronauts Zip Elvin (Mark Hamill) and Colt Steelcase (Jeff Bennett) whose arrogance and denial of alien life could be a cover-up. Then there is the robot H.A.M. (Diedrich Bader), whose dark humour could be masking a nefarious intent. We also have Sly Baron’s brother, Hudson (Fred Tatasciore), who has been living alone on the moon so long that he’s developed a definite case of Space Dementia, and finally, what about Sly Baron himself, could an alien attack on one of his ships be all part of a huge publicity stunt?
As gorgeous-looking as Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is, the treatment of the Scooby gang here is less than stellar. Right off the hop, we get Velma becoming insanely jealous of Daphne when the pretty redhead becomes buddy-buddy with astronaut Shannon, the two get into a heated argument with Daphne questioning, “Is it too hard to accept that I might be more than a pretty face?” with Velma retorting, “What’s hard to accept is that you get to have it all. If you’re prettier and more stylish and smarter and a better astronaut, what’s left for me? If you are a better me than I am, then who am I?” This is an interesting existential crisis, but not very in keeping with Velma’s personality, as I’ve always considered Velma to be the more grounded one of the group, but her jealous feud with Daphne is small potatoes in comparison to how they treat Fred in this movie. Throughout many incarnations of the Scooby-Doo shows and movies, Fred has the most widely depicted character traits, from being the stalwart leader of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! to being the trap-obsessed nut of Mystery Incorporated, but with Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness, he becomes a fawning and bumbling moron. The Fred in this movie you wouldn’t trust with the operation of a toaster, let alone a trap to catch a monster.
· The movie opens with Daphne failing her driving test, which is odd considering we’ve seen her drive the Mystery Machine plenty of times before, and in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, she even had her own vehicle.
· The gang wins tickets for this space launch through a lottery, but how did the gang win all five available spots?
· The spacecraft Sly Star One is clearly designed to seat a lot of passengers, and we see dozens of empty seats behind our heroes, so why did they limit the draw to just five average citizens?
· Shaggy has a bizarre moment of realization when he points out, “Humour is often inspired by the same darkness from which it endeavours to escape.”
· Andy Sturmer’s music for this movie is very reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
· Scooby-Doo and Shaggy float around to Straus’s “Blue Danube,” a nice nod to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
· Fred accidentally encases Daphne in a fire retardant coolant gel, but as she was currently not wearing her spacesuit’s helmet, this should have resulted in her dying of asphyxiation.
· At one point, the artificial gravity generator on the Moonbase fails, causing everyone and everything to float around, but the Moon has gravity — 1.62 m/s² — and though lighter than that of Earth’s, things don’t just float around.
· The robot H.A.M. is revealed to be a human, the reverse of what happened in the science fiction classic Alien where Ash was exposed as a killer android.
· There is a wonderfully surreal sequence where each of the Scooby gang depicts how they’d picture the human resistance to an alien invasion.
The villain of the piece turns out to be Shannon Lucas, who concocted the whole alien attack hoax to convince people on Earth that space travel isn’t safe for amateurs and should be left to professionals, also being the sole survivor and hero — after she blows up the Moon base along with all witnesses — hopefully resulting in her becoming rich and famous as well. What’s interesting about the structure of this reveal is that once she is exposed as being the “Alien,” she doesn’t just roll over with the typical, “And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids,” but instead she escapes, leaving them all behind on a base that she had laced with thermal chargers. Shannon is easily one of the most competent villains our heroes have ever faced.
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness gave our heroes a break from globetrotting ghost-hunting to stretch their limbs in a truly fun space adventure, and aside from some strange character choices the writers of this movie chose to throw at us, they still did a bang-up job with this particular mystery (not to mention landing a great cast of guest voice actors), making this a Scooby-Doo entry that I can heartily recommend.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness (2015)
Movie Rank - 7/10
Animation wise Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is a gorgeous entry, with amazingly conceived locations and set pieces, not to mention it has one of the better mysteries in the line of Direct-to-Vidoe animated movies